10 Survey Results: Executive Summary
“There are an overwhelming number of resources to evaluate and a lack of staff coordination,
time, and interest.”
Expertise issues, communication, and organizational culture are also major concerns,
representing 20% of the challenges reported. Some of the challenges of expertise are technical, focusing
particularly on data (analysis, manipulation, etc.), but most are conceptual. Librarians are not able
to make sense of the data, with several mentioning the sheer complexity of assessment. This extends
into the communication challenges, specifically communicating the results and translating data and
analysis for non-experts. The respondents also expressed frustration with their attempts to change
the library culture to one of assessment, or even to have their work result in any changes. Typical
comments included:
“Assessment not tied to strategic goals, so recommendations not necessarily followed.”
“Administrators at the university level largely deaf to evidence of need as presented by
the library.”
“We do additional work to collect data to tell the story, but it doesn’t translate to additional
funding so it is worth all the work?”
Several of the challenges described were actually applications of the assessments, specifically for
evaluation of the use of space and funding.
Collection Assessment Skills
Staff training appears to be mostly informal and on-the-job. Fewer than half of the respondents indicated
that staff have received formal training in collection assessment or evaluation. Of these respondents, two
mentioned the ALCTS Fundamentals of Collection Assessment online course, but most mentioned more
informal or technical training. The technical training focuses on data management and analysis. Two
respondents mentioned that they are developing training programs.
Skills Ranking by Importance
Another goal of this survey was to determine the gap between the most important assessment skills
and the skills that library staff are lacking. The rankings in the responses to the questions about which
skills are most important and which skills library staff still need are so similar that they suggest that the
respondents misunderstood the intended distinction between the questions.
Overall, analytical/critical thinking, collection assessment, and collection development principles
were ranked the three most important skills. Knowledge of spreadsheet software was fourth, but database
skills ranked least important. The next group of skills includes subject expertise, data management, and
statistical analysis. Knowledge of the publishing industry and data visualization/chart-making skills are
less important.
The open-ended responses to a question about the desired continuing education opportunities
supports the idea that staff are, indeed, lacking the necessary assessment skills. Data management, critical
thinking, and statistical analysis figure prominently in the educational opportunities desired. The last
is paradoxical to the relatively modest rank of importance given to statistical analysis (average was 7th
and mode was 8th). General collection assessment skills were listed next, followed by technical skills.
Interestingly, two responses were focused on communication.
Collection Assessment Climate
The survey next asked respondents to indicate how well a set of statements reflected the assessment
climate at their library. The three statements that received the highest ratings indicate that library
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